Academics from the School of Computer Science and School of Psychological Sciences have developed a virtual reality system, which gives the illusion that a person’s amputated limb is still there.
The computer system created by Dr Stephen Pettifer and Toby Howard of the School of Computer Science, immerses patients into a life-size virtual reality world.
By putting on a headset, patients will see themselves with two limbs. They can use their remaining physical limb to control the movements of a computer-generated limb, which appears in the 3D computer-generated world in the space of their amputated limb.
So for example, they can use their physical right arm to control the movement of their virtual left arm.
Patients have complex hand-eye coordination and can move their fingers, hands, arms, feet and legs. They can also use their virtual limb to play ball games.
Phantom limb pain or PLP is discomfort felt by a person in a limb that is missing due to amputation. Previous research has found that when a person’s brain is ‘tricked’ into believing they can see and move a ‘phantom limb’, pain can decrease.
So far, five patients living in the Manchester area – including one who has suffered from PLP for 40 years – have used the virtual reality system over several weeks in a small-scale study.
But this initial project has produced startling results, with four out of the five patients reporting improvement in their phantom limb pain. Some improvements were almost immediate.
The Manchester team’s findings were recently presented at a major conference in Denmark on the use of virtual reality for rehabilitation.
Dr Stephen Pettifer, of the School of Computer Science said: "Most people know about 3D graphics and virtual reality from their use in the entertainment industry, in computer games and special effects in films.
“It's very satisfying being able apply the same technology to something that may have a real positive impact on someone's health and well being."
Project leader, Dr Craig Murray of the School of Psychological Sciences, said “Many people who undergo an amputation experience a phantom limb. These are often very painful for the person concerned. They can persist for many years, and are very difficult to treat.
“One patient felt that the fingers of her amputated hand were continually clenched into her palm, which was very painful for her. However, after just one session using the virtual system she began to feel movement in her fingers and the pain began to ease.”
Each participant used the system between seven and 10 times over the course of two to three months. Sessions lasted around 30 minutes and involved putting on a special virtual reality headset.
Upper-limb amputees were fitted with a special data glove and had sensors attached to the elbow and wrist joints. Sensors were fitted to the knee and ankle joints of lower-limb amputees. Head and arm movements were also monitored.
The three men and two women who took part in the study were aged between 56 and 65. The group included three arm amputees and two leg amputees, who had lost limbs between one and 40 years ago.
The University of Manchester research team hopes to include a larger number of patients in their future work in order to identify those most likely to benefit from the virtual reality system they have developed.
Fraunhofer FIT announces CloudTeams collaborative software development platform – join it for free
10.01.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Informationstechnik FIT
Electron-photon small-talk could have big impact on quantum computing
23.12.2016 | Princeton University
Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...
At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).
Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...
Many pathogens use certain sugar compounds from their host to help conceal themselves against the immune system. Scientists at the University of Bonn have now, in cooperation with researchers at the University of York in the United Kingdom, analyzed the dynamics of a bacterial molecule that is involved in this process. They demonstrate that the protein grabs onto the sugar molecule with a Pac Man-like chewing motion and holds it until it can be used. Their results could help design therapeutics that could make the protein poorer at grabbing and holding and hence compromise the pathogen in the host. The study has now been published in “Biophysical Journal”.
The cells of the mouth, nose and intestinal mucosa produce large quantities of a chemical called sialic acid. Many bacteria possess a special transport system...
UMD, NOAA collaboration demonstrates suitability of in-orbit datasets for weather satellite calibration
"Traffic and weather, together on the hour!" blasts your local radio station, while your smartphone knows the weather halfway across the world. A network of...
Fiber-reinforced plastics (FRP) are frequently used in the aeronautic and automobile industry. However, the repair of workpieces made of these composite materials is often less profitable than exchanging the part. In order to increase the lifetime of FRP parts and to make them more eco-efficient, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) and the Apodius GmbH want to combine a new measuring device for fiber layer orientation with an innovative laser-based repair process.
Defects in FRP pieces may be production or operation-related. Whether or not repair is cost-effective depends on the geometry of the defective area, the tools...
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
05.01.2017 | Event News
16.01.2017 | Trade Fair News
16.01.2017 | Automotive Engineering
16.01.2017 | Life Sciences